Formation of the NCAA: Un Unexpected Beginning

rowingSo many die-hard fans watch their favorite NCAA teams every day, either live and in person or in the comfort of their own home. You may be one of them. But do you know the one event that started the NCAA as a whole?

The wide variety of college athletic teams in the organization now is huge compared to the starting point of the organization. Any guesses as to what one event started the NCAA? It all started with one rowing competition between two top schools: Harvard and Yale.

Rowing remained the dominant sport through the late-1800s. It was common for schools to settle debates on athletic ability purely through rowing competitions. As other sports began to gain in popularity, they too were inducted into the arena of college sports. Basketball and football were among the two most rapidly emerging sports in the nation. The actual formation of the NCAA dates back to the early-1900s when President Theodore Roosevelt called a meeting to lay ground rules and regulations for football to ensure safety of future players. As it stood, some athletes who had participated in the game had been severely injured and even killed.

After a White House meeting involving 13 colleges and universities, regulations within the game of football were carefully reviewed and underwent significant changes. After this meeting, 62 institutions became members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) which was established officially on March 31, 1906. It took it’s present name, the NCAA, in 1910.

However, at this point, there were no established women’s athletics within the NCAA. This did not occur until the 1980s. Instead of including women’s college athletics in the NCAA, they had previously been part of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). Finally, in 1982, every division of the NCAA provided funding for national championship events for women’s athletics. After this, most members of the AIAW became members of the NCAA. Today, there is even one member of the NCAA who is a non-US member: Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada.

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